Umlauts, man. They’re tough. They get you thinking twice about whether you’re pronouncing things properly. Technologically, they’re a bit unwieldy. Aesthetically, however, they’re awesöme. Today’s featured act is all about the umlaut — they’re called TÜLIPS, and they’re a riot girl, noise-pop three piece from Los Angeles.

    I think the “pop” element is important to note here. Normally, a band of this description wouldn’t really be up my alley, but TÜLIPS doesn’t sacrifice catchy hooks in order to really work the “noise” half of that descriptor, as many “noise-pop” acts are prone to doing. At the same time, it’s nice because they walk the fine line of creating catchy tunes, but not completely bending over backwards to creating pop tunes — there’s still an element of rawness, and while it’s well-produced stuff, it’s not overly glossy. Basically, it’s fast, fun, garage pop coated in a layer of punk.

    TÜLIPS just released their cassingle with “Hotspur” and “Wait”, which you can listen to on Soundcloud or pick up online. If you live on the west coast, you can catch them live next week, when they’ll be going on a small tour, starting in Seattle on September 2nd. On September 4th, you can catch them at Foggy Notion with friends of the blog, Dedere (whose set is looking tight as ever, btw; caught them last week). Until then, keep up with TÜLIPS on Facebook and on Twitter @TULIPStheband (no umlaut).

    One thing that immediately gives away TÜLIPS’ love for pop tunes is their use of hand claps. They use them unabashedly, as you’ll hear at the start of “Hotspur”. They kick the tune off with claps in conjunction with a no-nonsense guitar progression, and a lead riff that serves as the base of the song. This tune in particular reminds me of a slightly poppier version of Sleater-Kinney meeting Eleanor Friedberger. The backing vocals in the hook are my favorite element of the tune, and then during the bridge there’s that break when the bass drops out and the drums get a chance to breathe, which is rad because it helps break up the tune, giving it some variety. “Hotspur” is a pretty fast-paced, in-your-face track, which seems to be par for the course for TÜLIPS.

    You can find “Hotspur” as well as the rest of this month’s featured tracks on the free download of the GB! August 2014 Mixtape, the latest in our monthly mixtape series. Come back and get it on August 29!



    The music community in Portland is a tight-knit one, and that fact became even clearer to me when I discovered The Domestics. As an avid soccer player, I play a fair amount of pick-up soccer, and one day, music came up in conversation during the match. That conversation is when I learned that Michael Finn wasn’t just some dude out here playing soccer, but also one half of The Domestics, a talented, soft-spoken act, crafting tunes based around their songwriting prowess.

    A fairly new act, The Domestics are gearing up for the release of their self-titled debut LP, and to get ready for it, they’ve been doing something kind of cool. Every Friday for the past couple months, they’ve been releasing a track off the record to the public via their Bandcamp. As of this writing, eight of the ten tracks have been revealed, and they’re all pretty flawless, coming together to form a sound I can only describe as “classic” — the songs feel warm and familiar, even on the first listen. There’s a distinct western influence in the tones and the progressions. The Domestics’ approach harkens back to 70s singer/songwriter-style production, and perhaps most importantly, the songs they write aren’t just honest — they’re earnest. In a modern day musical landscape crammed full of lo-fi apathy (which I love, mind you), The Domestics’ sincerity is a breath of fresh air.

    This very weekend, The Domestics will be playing The Thing in Alsea, which is sure to be a great time with a line-up that reads like a who’s who of Portland music. If you can make it down there, you most definitely should go. The Domestics’ LP is going to be released on September 5th, but it’s available for pre-order right now on their Bandcamp. Stay current by liking The Domestics on Facebook and following them on Twitter @the_domestics.

    "It Came To Me" is immediately commendable from a production standpoint due to the hard panning of the drums. I think creative panning techniques are underused in modern production, and trying them takes serious guts. To me, it’s reminiscent of old Beatles tunes, which were my first exposure to stereo sound and hard panning. The layers of percussion are particularly impressive in this tune, with the hand-drumming adding a nice texture. The vocal harmonies are really strong not only on this track, but throughout the album as whole. The change during the "you were waiting for me to go" line is a really cool change, in particular at the end where it’s repeated twice, but once in what sounds like a mostly minor tonality and then in more major way.

    You can find “It Came To Me” as well as the rest of this month’s featured tracks on the free download of the GB! August 2014 Mixtape, the latest in our monthly mixtape series. Come back and get it on August 29!



    Last week I got to sit down and talk to Ryan Pollie who makes music under the Los Angeles Police Department moniker. We were introduced through a friend earlier this summer and became friends in turn through our mutual enjoyment of hockey and making music. LAPD’s self-titled debut will be out at the beginning of September on Forged Artifacts, and you can pre-order it on Bandcamp. For more, make sure to like LAPD on Facebook and follow on Twitter @LAPDmusic.

    GB: So, I read the Stereogum interview, and I was like, “Wow. All right, that’s pretty much better than anything I could ever really write.”

    RP: Yeah. I just shat out of my mouth in that. I need to get [better about that]. This is my first record I’ve ever done, so…

    It’s fun to talk about that shit, though, man.

    It’s fun, but then I started reading that, and by the end of the first paragraph, I was like, “Nope. Can’t do that.”

    Why not?

    It’s too personal. It’s weird to see it online. I don’t know.

    Well, for what it’s worth, I actually read that and thought, “Wow, that’s cool,” but I guess I haven’t been on the other side of it, so I can’t really relate.

    You’ll very bluntly say something like, “Oh yeah, this song is about being depressed and drinking too much and being holed up in my room for a month,” and then you look at that sentence on a website and you’re like, “Oh, fuck.”

    "That’s too real…"

    Yeah, exactly. And you’re like, “Oh well… I just said that because that’s what it’s about.” You kind of forget that art and music are really personal things.

    So, this record is gonna be out on Forged Artifacts in September. How did you end up getting hooked up with them?

    When I released “The Only One,” my first song as LAPD, Mark [from Yvynyl] wrote about it, and it was the biggest deal to me. I was freaking out about it, and I’m still so grateful that he picked it up. Basically, he introduced me to Matt [the head of Forged Artifacts]. Mark was like, “Yo Ryan, I love the song, I’m posting about it today,” and I go to the page, and the post right there on the front page with “The Only One” was this letter that Matt had written Mark that was kind of the coolest, weirdest press email I had ever seen. It was Matt being like, “I have a bunch of solid bands, and all I can promise them is that I love their music and I will champion their music and work my ass off to get it out there,” and it was so honest. He talked about what it was like to be a DIY label. Well, that day he reached out to me and was like, “I heard your song, I love your song,” and I was like, “Dude. I read your letter, I love your label!” That was probably in January. We didn’t end up deciding officially to work together until way later, but he’s just a great dude.

    How did it feel to get all these write-ups from all these cool publications? Yvynyl, Gold Flake PaintPitchfork. Was it like, “Wow! They actually wanted to write about it!”?

    I think it always depends what it says. In general, to answer your question, underwhelming. (laughs)


    Well, it was fucking amazing at first, to be honest. Now that people are writing about it, some of that has worn off a little bit, but at the beginning when it was like, “Dude, people are starting to like this,” that was a huge deal. Because, I’d show my friends [my tunes] and they’d be like, “What is this? This is weird.” It was so amazing to have that first [experience] where you’re like, “This dude has been writing about music for this long, and he liked it?!” Mark was one of those guys. I knew Yvynyl, and I had been reading it forever. It’s especially great when writers you respect are writing cool things about it. But sometimes it can be underwhelming. I don’t know. It’s hard to explain. I don’t think any successful musician is reading their own review.

    I just think it’s cool to see that someone gave a fuck and actually wrote something.

    I’ve read some stuff where — I’ll never forget this — it was something like, “It reminded me of when I was a kid and when I was near this tree, and my mom brought my a blanket and comforted me when I was cold, and it reminds me of how my mom was always there for me.” And I was like, “Holy shit!”

    I like it when people get it — when they’re like, “I get what this song is about; it makes me feel this,” and you can be like, “Yeah, it makes me feel that, too!”

    So, earlier this summer, we were talking about recording methods and philosophies, and you seemed to take a more “organic” approach — essentially, doing it the way you hear it, and not overthinking it. Is that right?

    I don’t do anything in the box. The only thing I’ve ever done in the box is add reverb. There’s no compression, no EQ — I don’t really know what I’m doing in that respect. I figure if something sounds good going in, then that’s good enough right?

    Yeah, I think the saying is, "Shit in, shit out."

    For me, the way that I record ends up being the easiest way, and that’s that. I literally set up a mic and play a take, and that’s it. For this record, I had Garageband, a MobilePre, and this condenser mic that I bought in college because I wanted to record an album for my thesis. It was such a basic set-up. There’s digital artifacts and terrible shit all over the record, but it’s such a layered record that it kind of sounds like vinyl pops. (laughs) Or at least, I like to think it does.

    But even friends of mine would listen to the tunes and then be like, “So when’re you gonna go record this stuff?” Like, I’d give them the song, and they’d be like, “Oh, cool, man. This is a really good skeleton for a song,” and I’d be like, “This is the song, you asshole!” (laughs)

    So, I wanted to ask you about the DIY scene in Los Angeles. What can you tell me about it?

    Well, it’s weird. Somebody hit me up about doing an interview about the DIY scene in L.A., and I got kind of nervous. They wanted to interview me, Rachel (R.L. Kelly), and Avid Dancer, so I got kind of nervous that they would interview me and I’d be all negative about it. But if I were to speak truthfully about the DIY L.A. scene, I would probably have to speak negatively about it.

    The only community I really had was Jack [of Princess Reason], but he left. Jack would hit me up whenever he had shows, I would hit him up whenever we had house party shows. We were friends, and we would kick it. Really, the best version of a DIY scene is me having house parties at my house, and all our friends come, and we get trashed, and I play a show.

    I feel like people like you are the ones championing it, and if it ever ends up thriving, it’ll be because of that.

    [The DIY community] is kind of a thing, but it’s not really a thing. There’re DIY artists here, but it’s not like a community really.

    Yeah, that’s kind of the reason I left. It felt impossible to find people who gave a fuck.

    I think a lot of it, too, is — being part of a community means that you wanna go back and see some of the same bands, same people, same group of friends. Here, people check out a band and are like, “Okay. Check. Saw them.”

    And it’s also hard to get around that town, in general. Even just trying to hang out with your friends, not trying to go do anything.

    Exactly. Honestly, that’s what stopping me from moving to Silverlake. I have friends where I’m at, and if I move I’m never gonna see them again. I expected music to be everywhere when I moved here, and it is, but it’s so diluted and spread out.

    I thought it was kind of difficult to really connect with people down there.

    Absolutely. Most bands are so worried about getting great shows and opening for sweet bands, that nobody takes the time to put on cool shows with everybody on the same level.

    On top of that, it’s a giant market, and one that all huge acts hit. Like, sometimes bands can skip Portland, but they’re always gonna hit Los Angeles.

    Yeah. I can’t book a headlining spot at the Echo, for example, and be like, “Yeah, I’ve got all these friends who I want to play,” because then again, what it comes down to is that they say, “All right, cool, tickets will be $10 at the door, and what’s your draw, and can you fill that room?”

    And even if people do show, it’s $10 to get in, then $6 a beer, so you show up and have a couple beers, and it’s suddenly a $22 night.

    Pretty much, you get the lights, you get the sound guy, and the PA system…

    And you also get the four people who show up and spend the whole show texting.

    Yeah, exactly. If I’m having a house party, people are first and foremost coming to hang out. You don’t have to pay for shit! There’s a 7-11 across the street if you wanna get booze. Also, we’re in our house, and we’re comfortable there.

    Honestly, though, one of the coolest things I’ve seen in California as far as community goes is what Ty Segall does. My friend is in Wand, and Ty saw them, or heard them, and he was super into them. He kind of took them under his wing, and he was like, “You guys are gonna kill it — I’m gonna put on these shows, and you’ll have these sold out shows to get your music out there.” I thought that was super cool.

    And then there’s the Burger thing, which actually kind of freaks me out. All these tiny 13 year old kids with green hair that worship Mac Demarco — it’s super weird! I thought Mac Demarco was dad rock.

    My problem with Burger is that it sort of feels like a parody of itself at this point because A) they put out so much stuff that it’s sort of oversaturated and B) everyone wants to be the next Burger, but they want to do the exact same thing, like copy their aesthetic and everything.

    I think Burger is like a microcosm of Los Angeles music — and the music industry in general. It’s spread too thin, there’s too much of it, and it sounds too similar. There’s a lot of great fucking bands on that record label, though.

    Last but not least, I wanted to ask about your Stanley Cup prediction for this season.

    Dude, it’s gonna be Kings-Devils. (laughs)

    Kings-Devils? Yeah, okay, I bet. I think 1994 is like, the only time that could’ve been possible.

    That’s just what I want to see. Although, then I wouldn’t know who to root for. I’m a solid Kings fan, but the Devils are my childhood team, so I don’t know what I’d do.



    August is slowly drawing to a close, and the summer, unfortunately, is almost over. Soon this scorching summer, will be the burning past… and that makes the song we’re featuring today ever so fitting. It’s “The Burning Past” from Portland, OR’s own Bike Thief. See what I did there? Jokes, people — we got ‘em.

    Although they’re a fairly new band (formed in January 2013, I think), Bike Thief has been generating a good bit of buzz during their first two years of existence. They’ve enjoyed coverage from the Mercury and WWeek, and they’ve gotten to play some pretty sweet local venues (Doug Fir, anyone?). Bike Thief sounds a bit like Funeral era Arcade Fire, which is definitely a good thing because that’s the best era of Arcade Fire. What really sets Bike Thief’s sound apart is their use of “baroque” instrumentation, for lack of a better term. Strings, mostly. There’s also some vibe/xylophone sounding stuff, but it’s the strings that really get me. The way they use them just elevates the tunes so much, making them that more epic.

    Bike Thief’s new record, Stuck in a Dream will be available August 30th, and to celebrate, they’ll be playing an album release show at Bunk Bar with The Weather Machine and Ezza Rose. Early next month, you can catch Bike Thief the at the White Eagle on September 5th, alongside Grandhorse and The Hugs. For now though, keep up with Bike Thief on Facebook and Twitter @bikethiefband.

    "The Burning Past" lays the Arcade Fire aesthetic on right off the bat — the four on the floor kicks combined with the dramatic, impassioned delivery are reminiscent of the first verse of "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)". When the bass line comes in, that’s when the tune really gets my head bobbing, and boy is there more in store from the bass. Like at about a minute and ten seconds in, for example — that change is ecstasy. Starting at the bridge, there’s about a minute long instrumental break, and that’s probably my favorite moment of the tune. It allows Bike Thief to showcase everything going on in this tune, which is good because there’s a ton going on. The strings get to breathe a bit, we get a catchy guitar lead, and we also get a break into a distorted, minor bit, which is nice. The tune ends by settling back down, fading with some fast tremolo effected guitar picking.

    You can find “The Burning Past” as well as the rest of this month’s featured tracks on the free download of the GB! August 2014 Mixtape, the latest in our monthly mixtape series. Come back and get it on August 29!



    Today, we’ve got a very special feature on the blog, and even though I’m posting super late, just know I’m passionate as fuck about this band. They’re called Bent Shapes, and they’re from Boston, MA. They’re seriously one of the best bands I’ve heard in a while — so good as a matter of fact, that I impulse bought some of their vinyl, and even though the download code is sitting in my inbox, I’m waiting until the vinyl comes to hear most of these tunes for the first time. Because I care.

    Even though I’m peering at it from the opposite coast, I think Boston’s DIY music scene is one of the strongest (if not the strongest) in the nation. Bands like Bent Shapes are a great example of why. They gig a lot, and they’ve been around for a while (they used to be called Girlfriends). They get some great jangly guitar tones, and while the songs are catchy, it’s important not to overlook the writing, which is fucking genius. I think the formula for creating a tune that truly resonates in a timeless way is to grab the listener with your instrumentation (rhythms, melodies, etc), and then keep them coming back to that tune with your writing. Bent Shapes did this with me pretty flawlessly. Take "86’d in ‘03" for example — it’s a poppy tune with my favorite guitar tones, catchy riffs, a bouncy bass line, some “ahhs” thrown in as backing vocals — all the stuff I love. THEN, I read along with the lyrics, and I was like… holy fuck, this dude can write. It’s the same experience I’ve had with a lot of truly genius modern songwriters — Isaac Brock, early James Mercer (before he started that disco shit), Stephen Malkmus, to name a few.

    I’m kind of bummed that I’m posting so late today because I wanted to plug the Bent Shapes show tonight at TT the Bear’s, but it technically starts at 8:30pm, and by the time this posts, it’s going to be almost 9pm on the east coast. Oh, well… the lesson here is I should start sleeping on an adult schedule. That “86’d in ‘03” song I was talking about above is part of a limited run vinyl release from PIAPTK Records, so go pick that up — it’s seriously an awesome 7” that your collection could benefit from. They also have a hilarious music video for “Panel of Experts”. For the rest of Bent Shapes’ releases, check out their Bandcamp. As always, you can keep up with their most recent news by liking them on Facebook and following them on Twitter @bentshapes.

    There’s a saying that goes, “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture,” and I’ve never related to that expression more than I do right now. I feel like there’s absolutely nothing I can say about this tune that will do you any good — you just have to listen to it. It’s very no-nonsense, and that’s on all fronts; lyrically, instrumentally, thematically. After the first chorus (starting at about :45), there’s this rad break that features some frantically-strummed guitar blips and that same sequence reverbed out sitting way below it. Really, the stand-out to attribute of this tune to me is the writing — it’s a song that’s about two minutes long, and it has more thought-provoking content packed into it than probably the last month’s worth of reading you’ve done (not hating, just saying you probably should read more). Seriously, though, when you listen to this track, go open up the lyrics, and read along… you’ll get it. Or maybe you won’t. Maybe I just relate to it a shitload right now. Particularly this line: Some disordered portion of me tortures more than’s sporting ‘til this odd-job stopgap begets career.

    You can find “Behead Yrself, Pt II” as well as the rest of this month’s featured tracks on the free download of the GB! August 2014 Mixtape, the latest in our monthly mixtape series. Come back and get it on August 29!